Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Will the Circle be Unbroken?

Some things you just cannot predict. When we lived in Lachine, QC we would often travel to the south shore to visit the Canadian Railway Museum at Delson. Dad was a Canadian Railway Historical Association member and had complimentary admission. At the time, the museum was in its formative stages, with much equipment stored outside and pole barns not yet built. My siblings on ties in September, 1964 (above) - no benches, either! I was at home, only a few months old when this photo was taken by my Dad.

Now renamed Exporail at St-Constant, the CRHA has done much to keep the museum improving. Recently, I had a nice email from Mylene Belanger, archivist at Exporail, requesting a complete set of my books for the museum's archives. The books are currently on their way to Exporail!

I think my Dad would be pretty proud to have his son's books in the archives and to see the museum flourishing over fifty years later. Things really do come full circle and the circle is unbroken.
Highball, 
and thanks, Dad!
Eric


Saturday, May 6, 2017

First book review!


As soon as I could, I ordered Eric Gagnon's fourth VIA Rail book, "Trackside with VIA: Research and Recollections". Eric had been writing about his upcoming book for a while at his book blog, and my anticipation was growing and growing. Eric is a good salesman!
[Book Creator's note: I'm really pleased to publish Steve's realistic and balanced review. from his long-standing Confessions of a Train Greek blog. Steve has also been a long-standing blog partner on my main Canadian railway blog, Trackside Treasure. Please read on...]

I placed my order and paid via e-transfer (his first!) and in a few days the book arrived in the mail. As requested Eric had signed the interior, and to my surprise it was numbered Copy #001.

Research and Recollections is a soft-cover perfect bound book with 124 pages plus the title page and table of contents page. The book contains a lot of text, as well as numerous small photos (mostly black and white) and a number of tables. This is not a coffee-table picture book, but it is very accessible and easy to read.


After several introductory pages (including a foreword by Tim Hayman and a dedication to the author's father) the book launches into a series of trip reports. These really set the tone for the book and draw the reader into the world of VIA Rail in the 1980s. Eric is a meticulous record keeper and it shows in his stories. The level of detail - what he ate, what he paid for it, for example - is impressive, yet it doesn't detract from the stories. In fact, I would say the details add to the stories and really place you in the moment.



These stories take up about 40% of the book, and include black and white photos related to the stories, as well as several "triVIA" boxes featuring.. well, trivia about VIA Rail.



After the stories are numerous research articles, from vice-regal cars to sleeper car swaps in Winnipeg to the IC3 Flexliner trial, and much more. Maybe the book title should really be Recollections and Research to be in the proper order! These articles are very engaging and each could easily be expanded into a quality magazine article.



Guest contributors Tim Hayman, Don McQueen, Mark Sampson and Mark Perry have their own sections in the book. Maybe in book five Eric might invite a transplanted Easterner to contribute... what do you think? ;)

After the guest contributions follows what is, in my opinion, the weakest part of the book. There are 26 pages of consist information, a full 20% of the book. I know Eric loves consists, and so do many other railfans, but for me that was 26 pages of fast forwarding. Maybe that's why I read the book so fast the first time!


This section is followed by 10 pages of colour photos, six per page. Many are Eric's but other photographers are also represented. Full advantage is taken of the colour to show VIA's many wraps, from Home Hardware VIA 6429 to the Grey Cup train to today's Canada 150 wraps. A huge variety of VIA equipment is shown, including F units, RDCs, the blue and yellow fleet, Renaissance... VIA certainly has had quite a variety!



The final few pages of the book include some reference material and tables to finish it off.


I think by now you can tell that I really like Research and Recollections. The stories at the front really give a good flavour for what travelling on VIA Rail was like in the 1980s, and the many research pieces and photos - especially the colour ones - provide a great deal of deep information on many aspects of VIA past and present. I'm not interested in the consist tables, but I'm sure many people are. Even if those pages were completely blank, I'd still recommend this book!
[So there you have it. Thanks very much, Steve! I now have two projects. The first is to get Steve involved in my next book project. And here's my pledge - Steve will be on page one. (Steve, you heard it here first, my friend!) The second is to get him more interested in the incredibly intensely-interesting intricacies and  importance of train consist information!]

Highball!
Eric

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Repeat Customers are Satisfied Customers...

...and this is a repeat customer. Looking back, this purchaser of my latest book not only felt moved to post this to Yahoogroups just now, but also was one of the first 10 purchasers of each of my four books. Thank you Derek Thompson for your kind words about Trackside with VIA: Research & Recollections

"I received your book today, Eric, and I see that I am now set for reading material throughout the summer. 

As good as your previous offerings were, this is a cut above that, and already I am having difficulty putting it down. There are several bonuses, not the least of which are photos of Tim Hayman's terrific HO models. 

It is evident that a tremendous amount of effort went into this release and I, for one, am grateful that you took the time. 

I highly recommend the book to anyone with even a passing interest in Canadian passenger rail. Not only is it a treasure trove of information, with a wonderful array of photos, the price is also remarkably low. At about half the outlay for - say, a Morning Sun book (in Canada), it has many times more in value, at least to me. 

Thank you, Eric!"

Highball, Derek! 
Just like the two westbounds waiting to leave Toronto Union! (above)
Eric

Saturday, April 22, 2017

It turned green! Highball! Now available!

I'm proud to announce the launch of Trackside with VIA: Research and Recollections, my fourth book on VIA Rail. The idea for this book was planted last fall, and it's sprouted this spring. Professionally printed by Allan Graphics here in Kingston, with graphic design by Bryan Babcock, I'm especially proud of this fourth volume. It's perhaps the most 'personal' of the four. If a picture tells a thousand words, two Youtube videos should be worth quite a few more: What's In This Book? and Behind the Scenes.
With 20 more pages than my second book published in 2012, including a 10-page colour section, there has been no price increase. And postage within Canada is still included in the price of $35! As with all my other books, I aim to keep the price reasonable, encouraging sharing of the information it contains. Getting it out there for posterity!

The best place to check out all the details? I encourage you to check out my New VIA Rail Book blog, which is at top right of Trackside Treasure's sidebar. There you'll find information on the book and its creation, but more importantly my email address for Interac e-transfer through a Canadian financial institution, alternaively a printable order form if you'd care to order with a cheque or money order by snail mail in the US or Canada.

I usually ship within two business days when an order is received. Each book is shipped in a padded mailer with cardboard stiffener, and can be signed if desired. I'll be at Kingston station platform at 6 pm for a one-hour launch for local railfans.

So how is this book different and why? Why does it deserve a place on your bookshelf? I think you'll find within its covers a nice mix of text, data and photos. Maybe you can find some of this information elsewhere.  But it won't be all in one place for your perusal. And frankly, some of this information is not available elsewhere. Not only is there research, data and photos of mine, but also of my contributor team: Tim Hayman, Don McQueen, Mark Perry and Mark Sampson brought their expertise in modelling, locomotives and VIA operations in Northern Manitoba and VIA's Canadian, respectively.

Let's face it - there are very few books on VIA Rail out there. I've listed the only ones in existence in my first book, and I've added two published since then in this book. Now there is one more! Trip accounts from throughout VIA's history, and consists from 1981 to 2016 comprise the 'personal' parts of the book. Not knowing my Dad had saved consists that I'd lost track of (no pun intended), I've included them, plus accounts of VIA trips made by my parents, as well as photos of VIA operations taken by my Dad and my brother in the 1980's. All in one convenient package! Bryan was kind enough to deliver the first print run to my house, which we eagerly opened and posed for our graphic designer/book creator photo! Now that's service!
Just the facts:
  • Trackside with VIA: Research & Recollections
  • $35 delivered anywhere in Canada
  • 126 pages
  • 106 B&W photos
  • 78 colour photos
  • colour covers
  • 10-page colour section
  • all the details here!
***As always, thank you for your interest in my books and I trust you'll enjoy them 
as much as I enjoyed creating them.*** 
- Eric

Friday, April 21, 2017

Now arriving!

This is what it's all about. This is what it all comes down to. A knock at the door, and it's Bryan from Allan Graphics. He has a delivery. This is really going the extra few miles! Soon stacked in the front hall, it's the delivery of the first print run of Trackside with VIA: Research and Recollections!
After opening up a box, it's time for a delivery photo-op with Bryan. He still can't believe how many rail enthusiasts there are in Canada! But every book he prints for me, he gets a much better idea!
Thank you Bryan, and Allan Graphics for facilitating local printing of my fourth book!
Highball!
Eric

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Contributor Delivery at Kingston!

With a great team of contributors aboard for Trackside with VIA: Research and Recollections, a particular pleasure is making sure their contributions are rewarded with a complimentary copy. Even better is a delivery to a contributor who's riding the train through Kingston! Contributor Tim Hayman was doing just that, aboard No 65 after arriving Montreal on No 15 and before departing Toronto on No 1.

It was great to meet Tim, albeit briefly, and provide him with some reading material for his cross-country trip. I really appreciate the contributions all my contributors have made! Shortly after the delivery, I got this message from Tim:

I showed the book to the attendant who let me off, and as we were chatting, the other Business Class attendant came over and said, "Are you Eric Gagnon?" I said no, but I'd just met him on the platform. He said, "Oh no, I wish I knew!" He says he's been following the development of your latest book (he has the others) and is set to order this one, too!
Tim reached Vancouver today! Before leaving, he left the above creative whiteboard artwork (above).

Highball!
Eric
Top photo by Karen Gagnon

Monday, April 17, 2017

Making Things Easier!

With my previous three books, I got just as much feedback on ordering as I did on the book. That was five years ago. We weren't set up for online banking or PayPal. Now we are set up for online banking which means E-Transfer is ready!

Lots of customers would rather not have written a cheque (can't remember the last time I wrote one, they said!) then having to stick a stamp on an envelope (can't remember the last time I used a stamp, they said!!). And I get that. So now, E-Transfer is ready! It's nearly instantaneous, it's free, it's secure, it's just an email away, and it's quicker. The order is placed right away and I'll ship within two business days. And it's not subject to mail strikes, which beset delivery of my first book!

Please include your mailing address, number of copies, and whether you'd like them signed and if so, to whom.

The photo shows the contributor copies arriving. They're now on their way to my contributors. We're just a week away from the release and from making things easier!

Highball,
Eric

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Bonjour, Jean-Francois!


A shout-out to VIA car attendant Jean-Francois who was working VIA No 65 through Kingston today. Thanks for your interest in my books on VIA Rail! If you care to drop me an email, I would be happy to arrange a delivery of a copy of my latest book for you at Kingston on a future run! No shipping charge for on-train deliveries!

Highball,
Eric

It Turned Yellow!

When this book blog background becomes yellow, it means one thing...the highball is approaching. My graphic designer is in the final stages of production of Trackside with VIA: Research and Recollections, and since I worked towards an April release all winter, it's about time!

Stay tuned for the official release date. It shouldn't be long now.
Highball!
Eric

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Sneak Peek Proof

A couple of sneak peeks from the hard copy proof from my graphic designer. Above is one of the ten colour pages, which include recent Corridor trains, early Super Continental and Canadian, LRC, RDC's, Northern Manitoba, VIA HO-scale models, F40's, modern Canadian - a colour sampler of a plethora of VIA trains, new and old. I'm happy with the colour reproduction on the coated paper.

I've again included "triVIA" tabs wherever possible. Not just filling white space, no! These tabs present little VIA factoids that will be of interest to VIAphiles. And Bryan and I got a better colour for the cover - not only more easily-discernible from my Trackside with VIA Cross-Canada Compendium blue cover, but a nice representation of VIA teal.
Highball!
Eric

Monday, April 3, 2017

CANADA 150 Update

Creating a book is great fun, but VIA Rail keeps rolling on. VIA Rail's CANADA 150 silver sesquicentennial fleet, that is. While I update VIA developments that have occurred since 2011 in this upcoming book, CANADA 150 wrapping of P42's, F40's, Business Class and economy LRC coaches and even lounge car Glenfraser roll on. As the book went to the graphic designer, I had to draw a line in the ballast.

For the VIAphiles out there who keep rolling on, here is the current state of the CANADA 150 fleet as of April 3. And if you happen to see VIA 913, the engineer's side of 900 or the other side of 3364, drop me a line!

Click for a larger version!

I trust you'll find this information useful. As with all other VIA information, it is tons 'o' fun to put together.

Highball!
Eric

Friday, March 31, 2017

Changing the Water into Wine

And changing the black & white into colour. Tonight was a book draft perusal and proof-read. A glass of dry white Las Mulas didn't seem to hurt the process any.

Though this page will be one of ten colour pages in my upcoming book, right now it's just a black-and-white issue.

I really like the way this book is coming together and my graphic designer truly does have the patience of Job as the emails and attachments fly back and forth!

Highball!
Eric

Friday, March 24, 2017

Bird in Hand

Right now, I'm like the guy holding a dove for release at a wedding. Or at the Olympics. I'm holding the dove. I know what it can do. It can spread its wings. It can fly. It can go far.

The dove I'm holding is Trackside with VIA: Research and Recollections. But right now it's merely a handful. My graphic designer is working his magic. Getting ready to fly...

Highball! Soon I hope,
Eric

Monday, March 13, 2017

Read me a Storyboard

Storyboards - I used two of these to position the various items in my new book for planning purposes. Each item was represented by a post-it note that was easily repositioned. Necessary to get the book in order in my mind's eye. Now their usefulness has come to an end. They are in the recycling box.

Originally purchased for a train show display (below, shown with my first book), I repurposed them for storyboard use. I may repurpose them again as stiffeners in padded mailers I send my books out in. Ensuring your copy arrives in good shape, and I've never received a report that a copy has been damaged during shipping.

Awaiting word from my graphic designer,
I'm ready for the...
Highball!
Eric

Saturday, March 4, 2017

You Can Judge a Book By Its Cover

This just happened. An email from my graphic designer with the subject line "Just a Teaser" included this image. Will you see everything shown on the cover within the covers? Yep. A wide range of eras, operations, equipment, trips and even modelling.

Research and recollections.

Just like it says on the cover!

Highball!
Eric

Sunday, February 19, 2017

What's in this book?

As I prepare the material for my fourth book Research and Collections for my graphic designer, I have a list to share with you of just what's in this book. If it fits. If I have more room, I'll add more.

Trips aboard VIA to Vancouver, Calgary, Portage la Prairie, Winnipeg, Prince Rupert, Ottawa, Quebec City from 1980-2017
Business Class
Kingston platform sights and sounds
Trains to Churchill
Swapping sleepers at Winnipeg
Canadian consists at two locations
Skylines
Vice-Regal Car Trips
More Rescue trains
IC3 Flexliners in VIA service
Working the Canadian
Modelling VIA
F-unit Paint Transition Data
Discovered Consists
2011-2017 Update and Consists
Refurbished LRC cars
F40 Wraps
F40 Rebuild dates
Locomotive Roster
Car roster
10-page colour section
180+ photos supporting the text and data.

As always, I need my books to be data-packed, photo-filled, interesting to read and good value for the money. This one will be.

Coming April 2017
Highball!
Eric

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Contributor Profiles #2, 3, and 4

No time for lengthy blogging about this. Too busy. Doesn't mean I'm not incredibly proud of the contributor team who will be adding so much GOOD STUFF to this book.

  • Tim Hayman
  • 'Diesel' Don McQueen
  • Mark Perry
and previously announced:
  • Mark Sampson
Great to have all aboard!
Highball!
Eric

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Contributor Profile #1

I thought I'd do some biographical sketches of the contributor team for my upcoming fourth book on VIA Rail: Trackside with VIA: Research and Recollections. Each of my books has been graced with a great team of generous contributors. This one is no different.

But as soon as I started penning each profile, I figured anyone reading this would want to know more about just what the contributors were contributing. All this takes time and my time right now is being devoted to tying everything up with a big blue & yellow ribbon. So, in the interest of brevity, I'll just leave you with a name for the first contributor.

That name is...
Mark Sampson.

Highball!
Eric

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Caption, my Caption

175 Photos! The good news is, I've chosen and grouped the photos for Trackside with VIA - Research and Recollections. The bad news is, now I have to write captions for them! Newsy captions. Content-filled captions. Correct captions. Accurate captions. Not-guessing captions. Not that it's not fun. It is.

Side question - how many dozen F40 and P42 nose photos can one possibly look at. Answer - not too many. Variety is the spice of life and the same is true of VIA photos. I call it VIAriety. Well over 100 are from the F-LRC-Turbo era. The remainder from the F40-P42 era.

And I'm expecting a vital addition from a valued contributor. A keystone of sorts.

Highball,
Eric

Ditch-liqht-equipped Super Connie at Saskatoon in 1979. D J Gagnon photo

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Photos Matching Text

Dome
With LRC
Photos matching text
Lots of fun
Book

Haiku above! The blogging is suffering a bit as I immerse myself in the book creation process. Text pieces and spreadsheets of data are 99% complete. Storyboards started. Now scanning, editing and matching photos to each piece. 

The feeling of anticipation is palpable. Much as the arrival of a Skyline in Toronto for the Rapido product launch at Exporail must have been (photo).

Highball!
Eric

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Why a Book?

Commenting on his book The Revenge of Analog - Real Things and Why They Matter, author David Sax said that writing a book was "a terrible business idea. But you do it because you have an idea you want to solidify into something." Something more than a social media post. Having just received a finished copy of his book, which he cradled affectionately, he said, "I can literally rub my hand over my name. That's worth however many g**d*** years I put into this thing!"

Now that sounds like a book I'd like to read!

Highball!
Eric

Saturday, January 7, 2017

This Bud's for You. This Book's for Me.

Is it self-serving and indulgent to say that this fourth book is for me? Yes. Because it's really for you. My first book: Trackside with VIA: The First 35 Years (above) compiled and organized all my 2,700+ VIA consists garnered trackside from 1976-2011. My second book: Trackside with VIA: Cross-Canada Compendium (below) is what others asked for. More of a national focus, more text, more photos, more colour - and it got so big it spawned my third book, the Consist Companion.
Yet this pending book's for me. It is VIA history, operations, consists, photos, data and text that matters to me. That interests you. That I want to share. It can still be national, text, photo, colour and all those good things. Yet it still explores those niche areas of VIA that no-one else writes about. That no-one else experienced and if they did, they didn't share it very widely. Who else would publish this material? And where else would you find it?

It's research. It's recollection. It's review. It's remembered.

It's for me. And it's for you. And it's coming down the track.
And I can't wait.

Highball!
Eric

Monday, January 2, 2017

Easter 1982

Permit me a dipsy-doodle digression during my data digestion. How was it possible that I:
  • was trackside April 10, 11 and 12 in 1982 and not in high school?
  • was able to document the consist of the eastbound Corridor Canadian each of those days?
  • noted Club de la Garnison and three other cars each day?
  • am surprised my Dad noted each day's club as 'Garrison Club'?
  • that each consist is recorded in his handwriting?
  • that each consist includes the notation 'Eric Amherstview'?
  • that I have lost these consists until now?
  • that I have found them?
  • and I'm including them in my fourth book under the heading Discovered Consists?
Google tells me that those days were the Saturday, Sunday and Monday of Easter weekend that year, that's how!

Once again, thanks Dad!
Highball!
Eric